Monday, November 14, 2016
Trolls Adoption Movie Review
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And now the review!
A village of Trolls live in complete happiness. Their lives are filled with dancing, singing, and regularly-scheduled hugs each hour. Although they are peaceful, the Trolls have drawn the ire of the much larger Bergens, who are jealous of the Trolls because Bergens do not know how to be happy. They discover that, by eating a Troll, they can feel happiness for a short time.
** SPOILERS AHEAD THE REST OF THE WAY **
The Bergens do something monstrous: they cage the Troll village, and start a horrible annual tradition where each Bergen finds momentary happiness by eating a live Troll. One year, the Trolls manage to escape; led by King Peppy, the Trolls secretly leave their cage and make a new home in a faraway village. The Bergen Chef is exiled, and the Trolls enjoy decades of safety. All of the Trolls have regained their happiness, except for one troll, Branch, who remains both vigilant and unhappy. He is vigilant because he fears the Bergens finding their new village. His unhappiness, we later learn, is because he blames himself for the death of his grandmother – he was discovered by the Bergens because of his childlike singing many years ago, and his grandmother died to save him.
Twenty years have passed since King Peppy helped the Trolls escape, and now his daughter, Princess Poppy, wants to throw a celebration to commemorate the anniversary. Branch protests because he fears the noise of the celebration will cause the Bergens to find them, but Trolls do what Trolls do – they sing and dance. And Branch was right; the Bergen Chef arrives and captures many Trolls. She intends to feed them to the new Bergen King in order to gain a place of power in the community from which she was exiled. Poppy sets off to save her captured friends while the rest of the Trolls cower in safety. Eventually, Branch sets off to join Poppy, and he does so just in the nick of time to save her from being more or less eaten by spiders.
When Poppy and Branch reach the Bergen castle, they enlist the help of a lovesick scullery maid to rescue their friends, but find that one of their friends has already cut a deal with his captors to trade the lives of every other Troll for his own freedom. How will Poppy and her people escape?
The Adoption Connection
While there is no adoption element to this film, kids who have been removed from a dangerous situation may relate to the Trolls’ experience of being whisked away from their encaged tree to a place of safety. Sometimes, kids who have been brought to safety in such a way fear being brought back into a dangerous situation, and they might have a hard time dealing with the fact that the evil Bergen Chef continues to hunt for the escaped Trolls. The Trolls are saved, at different points, by a courageous adult (King Poppy), a courageous young adult who remembers being saved as a child (Peppy), and by an unlikely stranger.
Branch blames himself for his grandmother’s death; he was being a normal, happy child when he was discovered by the Bergens, and his grandmother died trying to save him. Since then, Branch has been unwilling to sing, and the color has faded from his life. Sometimes, kids blame themselves for the abuse they have experienced. Branch eventually gets his joy back when he expresses his love for another Troll. Kids watching this film might connect with Branch’s sadness, and parents may want to proactively point out that Branch wasn’t responsible for his grandmother’s death: she chose to make a sacrifice, but the only person who is to blame is the Bergen who acted cruelly.
The Bergens eventually learn that they don’t have to be cruel to find happiness.
King Peppy selflessly risks his own safety to make sure that every other Troll is safe. Later, Poppy shows that she has embraced the importance of keeping her people safe.
Branch’s refusal to sing because of his grandmother’s death could be a helpful connection point for parents who want to help their kids be able to talk about trauma that they’ve experienced.
The film encourages viewers to learn that “Happiness is inside of all of us. Sometimes you just need someone to help you find it.”
A Bergen, who had been touched by the Trolls’ kindness, unexpectedly shows them kindness as well. It reminds me of the fable of the Mouse and The Lion.
On her journey to save the other Trolls, Poppy is nearly eaten several times, and is actually swallowed at least once. The perpetual threat of being eaten could be scary to some small children.
The world seems to be a very dangerous place for the Trolls.
The traitorous troll is eaten in a mid-credits scene; although he acted treacherously, I find myself preferring films where villains are redeemed rather than killed.
A Bergen father tells his son that the son will never experience happiness, since the Trolls have escaped.
When it seems that the Trolls are about to be killed, Branch finds his joy, and encourages the other Trolls to be happy as well. I love that he shows that you can find happiness within yourself, but it would be important to make sure that kids don’t come away from the film feeling that they have to mask their sadness when they’re in hard situations. Inside Out more helpfully showed that sadness has a function of getting other people to help you, and that joy can come with sadness. For the Trolls, it seems like happiness is something you choose instead of feeling sad. There is some truth to that, but it doesn’t always apply. On the other hand, Poppy is right that you do have some control over the perspective you choose, “I know it isn’t all rainbows, but I’d rather go through life thinking that it mostly is, instead of seeing all gray.”
In one particularly sad scene, all the Trolls lose their colors, and they all fade to gray. It could be surprisingly sad for some young kids.
Kids who fear kidnapping may have a hard time with this film; there are a couple scenes of mass kidnapping, which are sort of reminiscent of the very troubling opening to Pan.
I find myself wishing that more than 2 Trolls would have set out to save their captured friends.
Trolls is a generally positive, happy, and upbeat film with good music and some scary moments. It offers the generally positive advice that you can often choose the perspective you view the world through, and it also shows the power of love to help people through hard times. Its understanding of the roles of emotions seems shallower than Inside Out, and it will be too scary for some kids, but it seems likely to be enjoyable for most kids ages 8-11 or so.
Questions for Discussion
Why couldn’t Branch sing?
Do you think the world is mostly gray or mostly rainbows?
Who makes you feel safe?
Why did the Trolls lose their colors? How did they get them back?
Who helps you find the happiness inside of you? What makes you happy? How can other people become happy?
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